Mueller Report Books

African American Studies

Abiding courage: African American migrant women and the East by Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo

By Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo

Among 1940 and 1945, hundreds of thousands of African americans migrated from the South to the East Bay region of northern California looking for the social and financial mobility that used to be linked to the region's increasing protection and its recognition for better racial tolerance. Drawing on fifty oral interviews with migrants in addition to on archival and different written files, Abiding braveness examines the studies of the African American girls who migrated west and outfitted groups there.Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo vividly indicates how girls made the transition from southern household and box paintings to jobs in an business, wartime economic climate. even as, they have been suffering to maintain their households jointly, setting up new families, and growing community-sustaining networks and associations. whereas white girls shouldered the double burden of salary hard work and home tasks, black ladies confronted even higher demanding situations: discovering homes and colleges, finding church buildings and clinical providers, and contending with racism. through concentrating on girls, Lemke-Santangelo presents new views on the place and the way social switch happens and the way group is proven and maintained.

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In Houston, Theresa had worked as a domestic servant; each morning she left her home in the predominantly black Fifth Ward for the rich white neighborhoods in the heights. As she worked at jobs that "didn't amount to much," she endured the dangers and humiliations of segregation. Struggling to describe her experience, Theresa remarked, "You just don't know what it was like. " Facing a future limited by Jim Crow, she began to dream about leaving the South. And when a kind white employer described California, Theresa's dream assumed a more concrete form.

As such, they provide examples of African American agency and resistance, and they offer insight into how new communities are established and maintained. Historians, who have long recognized the incredible drama and poignancy of these mass population movements, have produced a rich and varied migration literature. 3 However, migration during World War II, and the particular experience and contributions of black women, have received little attention. 4 Similarly, the literature on women and World War II discusses labor Page 3 force participation, employment discrimination, and shifting gender roles, but it only partially reconstructs how African American women experienced the war.

The life of the chronically indebted contained serious hardship and frequent hunger. 21 During the depression, conditions for tenants went from bad to worse. Because New Deal agricultural reforms offered them compensation for Page 18 plowing crops under or holding land out of production, landowners evicted thousands of tenant families. Between 1930 and 1940 the number of sharecropping farms declined by 234,987. Displaced black tenants either moved to other farms or, increasingly, migrated into southern cities, where they joined the ranks of the unemployed or marginally employed.

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